Dear FrOGs, we hope this newsletter finds you well and enjoying the arrival of summer. Here are some updates and news. I hope you will enjoy the many photos of all that is happening in Gashora.
Well we are in the middle of Market season and our volunteers have been working super hard. Our gratitude goes out to them, there is no way we could participate in all these events without you. Not only are you awesome, you also make these long days fun.
The spring market at Harlow Drive was as always a great success, and the Canada Day Market at the Inner Harbour in Victoria blew our socks off. Lots of new contacts, child sponsors and possibly new volunteers. We loved branching out to Ladysmith and Duncan, and enjoyed being a part of the Quadra Street Night Markets and the ongoing monthly NorthPark Multicultural Market at Caledonia Ave in Victoria.
Markets still to come are :
Cobble Hill August 27
Coombs Fair August 13/14
Saanich Fair Sept 3/4/5.
So come on out and visit us, or maybe even help with set up and take down, or take a shift?
Thank you to all of you that keep buying our beautiful baskets, jewelry, painted rocks and more and thus continuing to support the JHA Arts, Weaving and Sewing Programs.
Food and Farm
Thanks to all our wonderful supporters, and especially our partner in the US, JHA has been able to feed all the children enrolled in the two preschools, as well as all the beneficiaries, staff and the 350 plus children that show up every evening for a meal. Though due to the war in the Ukraine and the resulting price hikes, purchasing the necessary foods is draining our resources quickly.
On a positive note though, once again with the generous help of our American partner, JHA has been successful in acquiring some more land immediately adjacent to the existing farm. JHA now owns 7.5 acres of fertile farm land right by the lake. An army of field hands has been working hard to get more land ready for planting. Presently cabbages and tomatoes are being harvested to the delight of all. These harvests will continue to reduce the need for donations to the "Food Basket".
Abdoul’s team, the "Journey House Miracle Workers" continue to farm their own plot of land. FrOG is happy to announced that we will fund some much needed equipment for these amazingly selfless and hardworking young beneficiaries.
*pictures below are:
The JHAMWs ( Journal House Miracle Workers ) also are hard at work to reach their goal to build a kitchen garden for each family in need!
COWS: In order to produce as many calves as possible, JHA recently purchased a bull. He is indeed a busy guy and we are soon awaiting the birth of many more calves. Apparently, some of our team members are seriously intimidated by this snorting, stomping presence and are staying well out of his way.
In order to have enough grass to feed all our cows, JHA now employs 32 farm hands who leave on their bicycles early in the morning to cut massive amounts of greens. JHA now also owns a small wooden paddle boat to access the rich grasses that grow just out of reach during the high water marks during the rainy season.
JHA considered the purchase of a truck to transport these mountains of grass, though decided against it, in order to keep all these farmhands employed. Most of these young men are school drop outs and had run ins with the law. There was nothing for them to do but to cause trouble. Now they have a job, purpose and status in the community. The children continue to learn about farming and animal care during their visits to the farm, and our Vet involves them wherever he can.
Victoria is doing very well and so is her calf Bonnie . So are all the other cows.
If you are interested in purchasing a cow to help us to expand the nutritional programs to ever more people in need, please contact us.
Under the new "Green Ambassador" program, JHA is playing a role not only in teaching the community about responsible garbage disposal and recycling, but they are also encouraging the planting of fruit trees and vines, in place of ornamental choices. Both our schools have very productive vegetable gardens, and Mukunzi continues to teach the children about gardening, plant care and food sustainability.
Rwanda just celebrated Kwibohora 28
[wikipedia: Rwanda observes Liberation Day on July 4 every year, marking the day when the Rwandan Patriotic Army, the armed wing of the ruling party Rwandan Patriotic Front, captured power and ended the 1994 Rwanda genocide against the Tutsi ethnic group.]
JHA marked the occasion with a soccer tournament, inviting many teams from neighbouring villages, to build strong ties and relations. Here you see the team in uniforms donated by "Playing for Peace“ who collected soccer equipment from Brentwood Bay college and soccer clubs to outfit the teams of JHA and some of the teams in Gashora.
Opportunity international https://www.opportunityinternational.ca/
More exciting news. "Opportunity International “ is an organization that works in over 40 countries to end global poverty. We are so happy that they have chosen to support JHA amongst the many NGOs in the district. OI trains teachers under their aid program. Out of 30 positions, 6 teachers from JHA where chosen to participate in this 3 year program. They where each given an i pad to access the many training modules and lessons.
Peaceful Heart Network. https://peacefulheart.se/
Also we are very excited to have been introduced to "Peaceful Heart Network" by a friend and are so grateful to her for having connected us to this amazing organization. Their wonderful Rwandan Representative, Placide from Kigali, is now working with the JHA team in order to provide support and training for those affected by stress and trauma "to ease suffering to prevent violence". FrOG is very excited to fund this program on an ongoing basis.
Here is what some of the attendees have to say about the first training session.
"All the thanks to the person who actually came up with that idea. We just can’t tell how much we needed someone like Placide"
"It was a heart relieving session, it was full of exact practices"
"Personally, I don’t think I can find the words to describe what effects that short session caused"
"Speaking trauma, it’s types, characteristics, everyone in the ( group ) started fitting into the session even much more"
"we are all traumatized in our own ways"
"I remember by the end of the session, I practically said to Placide “ this is just like a drop of water in the ocean, let’s assume that you came so we can know each other today but please find some more from your schedule and return. We really need you down here” which didn’t even sound like ( it) was enough of what I wanted to say"
"I personally loved the session and even if it needed paying, I would be much willing to invest in it"
Women’s Health and Family Planning
Last but not least, we are pleased to report that two lovely young women from Wisconsin travelled to Rwanda to deliver a number of programs during their 6 week stay. Both Ladies have completed the MSP ( Master of Sustainable Peace building ) program at the college of nursing and also have training in global health. Apart from interacting with many local families and the children at the two ECD schools, Renee and Eliza taught caregivers and team leaders basic first aid skills, met with local women to talk about women hygiene and Family Planning, worked with the sewers to fine tune the sewing of washable menstrual pads after feedback from the women of Gashora that have tried them out for a while.
In addition to the medical supplies donated by our wonderful Knitters Group in Germany, Eliza and Renee brought many more donations of first aid materials. There are now a number of first aid kits distributed in key areas for quick accessibility. Of course the kits will continuously need to be restocked, so donations are always appreciated. Eliza and Renee will return to Gashora in September to carry on their work. We are hoping to get set up for the delivery of Depo Provera ( the Birth Control Injection ) to support women to make choices about planned births.
The dream of a small clinic within ECD school #2 remains, in the hope that one day we can hire a nurse to come and visit once a week.
The piggery project is off to a good start. As you can see the sows are producing adorable piglets and Twajira and Evode are doing a great jobs of caring for them all.
There are plans in the works to start a separate "social enterprise" in which JHA will purchase 20 more pigs. The proceeds from that enterprise will support the production of washable menstrual pads by the JHA sewing team. These pads will be sold for a minimal amount of the production cost as the need for these pads in Gashora is great. The impact that the accessibility to pads is making to school attendance, and feminine health is noticeable. As the team says "pads should not be a privilege, they should be a right".
This project will not only give jobs to the sewers but also the workers in the expanded piggery and become a source of teaching and training on so many levels. If you are interested in supporting this program please contact us for more information.
Thank you for once again reading this letter. I hope you get much joy out of the ongoing works and achievements. For more regularly photos and quick message check us out on:
facebook: FRIENDS OF GASHORA
Wishing you all a glorious summer, stay cool and hydrated and be safe.
Love and Light to you all, always in deep gratitude for all you do!
Dear FrOGs, we are back safe and sound from a wonderful visit to Gashora. It was a last minute decision to fly to Rwanda when Covid restrictions eased back in early march. Since our last visit JHA implemented a lot of new programs and my goal was to meet all the program leaders and workers and get a good understanding of what they do and how they deliver the program. Neil was in charge of designing the metal and wood furniture to be made locally for the brand new Gallery Guesthouse, and oversee the welders and carpenters. So he too had a lot on his plate. Needless to say, it was a busy 6 weeks. We are happy that we got most everything accomplished we set out to do.
For those of you that followed us along on our blog ( https://gabrieleingashora.wordpressj.com/) some of what I will be writing about will sound familiar. But the blog has much more information and many pictures.
Even with all the changes and expanded programs that took place during the last two years, I find the biggest change is JHA’s involvement in the post genocide reconciliation process. The team is noticeably involved with the community around Kwibuka "remember, unite, renew” and "Ubuntu, Love and Light" are terms frequently used to describe their daily work and their goals.
The JHA team is working daily to bring people together. Always arranging some community event or participating in full force in all the celebrations Gashora is putting on.
There are considerably more conversations with Genocide survivors and perpetrators and open talks and discussions about how best to support them. The effort JHA is making to incorporate these families is nothing short of admirable, considering that there is a noticeable shortage of councillors and support workers. But just the fact that the team is opening their doors for opportunities ( 25% of their volunteers and workers have either been released from prison, or are family members of known perpetrators) and is role modelling this behaviour of inclusiveness is having measurable impact. I can see the difference their efforts over these past two years, since our last visit, have made. I would love to see JHA have a professionally trained trauma councillor on staff. As some of our own JHA youths are growing up under the care of the team, there soon will come a time when some of them have to be told the truth about their parents and relatives, and having a trained support person present would be immensely useful.
The team uses the 100 days of mourning that start on April 7th to reinforce the mission of JHA to build an inclusive environment where all people are welcome & included. The team uses this time to hold deeper discussions about “Who we are,” “who we want to become,” and where does JHA fit in. They emphasize the message of ONE people, ONE global village, One Dream, One Team.
All the other programs are expanding beautifully. Most importantly the expansion of the JHA farm. Thanks to the incredibly generous donation by AFJHAR, our wonderful American partner, JHA has been able to purchase more farm land and nearly double the existing operation. A large piggery project is under way, and as soon as the pen is ready the pigs will arrive.
There are also plans to build 2 dormitories, a girls and a boys wing. Renting houses is expensive and leaves the team vulnerable to having to move repeatedly, always having to uproot the children, never really able to have a permanent home. These dormitories will be built on JHA land. Thanks to the bed fundraiser at the beginning of this year, we already have all the "decker beds" and new mattresses and bedding we need.
The milk and HIV program are the newest additions to the JHA services and are delivered with so much love and care that even now it brings tears to my eyes, as I remember the times when we went along with the program leader.
The training classes for the new basket weavers and the new sewing program are making progress. Some real talent is emerging. The sewing program will need some careful monitoring and instructing. Which is not easy over zoom, with unstable internet. But we will continue to do the best we can from the distance. Having been there and spent time behind the treadle sewing machine, ( that was a learning experience in itself! ) demonstrating new techniques etc. was certainly useful.
The new roof should be going on shortly and help keep everyone dry.
Meeting all of our sponsored children was a delight. Getting to spend fun time with them was a definite highlight for me. Especially the real little ones adopted us quickly and come running for hugs when they see us and help us learn new Kinyarwanda words. Collapsing on the grass with laughter at our awkward pronunciation.
We have so many special memories just from hanging out with them or working side by side in the field with them, singing and of course always dancing.
During this visit we have identified 3 brilliant young people whom we wish to send to a better High School in Kigali. This will give them a much better chance at government scholarships for university. Each school year is about $1500.00 per student. If you are interested in supporting one of these brilliant future leaders, please contact us.
For those of you interested in visiting or volunteering, there are now three comfortable guest rooms just waiting for you arrival. (See more pictures on the blog https://gabrieleingashora.wordpress.com/)
All the football programs are once again in full swing and the teams are patiently awaiting the various shipments of soccer gear soon to arrive. Thank you Fernie soccer club for once again sending uniforms, shoes and balls. Thanks to a volunteer Karate teacher and a volunteer gymnastics coach the children are able to participate in these extra classes as well.
Also, there will be a number of Markets again this year, should you want to purchase one of the beautiful new paintings or one of our stunning baskets. There are some new designs and one of a kind pieces, worthy of the best art galleries in Canada.
North Park Multicultural Market May 8 th, 10-30 am to 1-30 pm, 1014 Caledonia Ave, Royal Athletic Park.
Craft Fair Fundraiser for FrOG Friends of Gashora, May 21/22 10 am to 4 pm at 2228 Harlow Drive, Victoria BC
FrOG - Rwandan Baskets/ artworks and jewelry
Grandmothers for Africa
Baked goods, crafts and honey, Preserves
Antique houseware and recycled crafts
July 2nd, Chemainus Love Festival
During these times of conflict in Europe, food prices of course are going up everywhere and this is most painfully felt in the already marginalized rural communities. Sponsorship for our young children is becoming critical and so are monthly donations. You can sponsor a child for as little as $20 a month and change a life for ever. If you are able to support FrOG in any way possible the impact in Gashora will be noticeable.
Thank you all for your continued love and support and interest in our wonderful JHA community. They truly are inspiring to us all and show us what can be achieved when we open our hearts and hang on tight to our dreams.
In this issue:
Dear Friends of Gashora, spring is just around the corner here and in Gashora the Team has just completed the egg plant harvest and are continuously harvesting amaranth. The new seeds are also being planted ensuring a continuous supply of a variety of vegetables. Thank God for our well, which protected the fields from drought in October/ November that hit Gashora hard, and secured our harvest.
Talking about the well! The public pump that the team had dreamed about for so long is now in operation and supplies free, clean water to as many as 4500 people DAILY!!!!!! This is absolute amazing! Thank you again to all that donated to the well project, look what a different this makes in the lives of these wonderful people.
Rogers: "At the highest peak days, we received more than 4500 people a day, everyone picks about 4 to 5 gallons."
MILK Project. Also, with 20 mature cows ( and now 4 calves ) there are on average 200l of milk a day!!!! This means there is enough milk left over at the end of the day to share the excess with local families. On weekends, a group of women are now also making butter. They will soon try their hand at making soft cheese.
The Food Basket Project that our American partner organized to combat the expected food shortage this spring due to the drought, as well as to support JHA in feeding the many children that show up daily outside the school gate in the hope of food, was a great success and will certainly make a big difference.
The sewing and weaving training programs continue to move forward according to plan and some of the new weaver’s beautiful baskets arrived in the last shipment. We are discovering some very talented young women in the program and they are being given some more challenging orders already. The sewing group has already completed the sewing of 250 school uniforms. Other projects include the sewing of washable menstrual pads as well as Shopping bags sewn out of recycled rice bags. They have also learnt to make those beautiful fabric Christmas stars. They will be available at the next market in many other patterns and colours.
From a team member: "There are 25 girls in the weaving project and 27 in the sewing program now, the number is planned to increase as we are growing together. Many of our beneficiaries are school dropouts and especially single mothers. The age range varies between 16 to single mothers of 30".
All participants receive nutritious daily meals for themselves and their babies. They all attend regular talks about drugs, alcohol and pregnancy prevention and we are hoping that these programs will give these young women a good start for a brighter future.
The team has been taking in more children ( just last week the local authorities asked JHA if they could take in 8 young children that have been living on the streets ) and the sleeping arrangements are becoming to be a problem. Too many children are sharing too few beds.
So we are doing a fundraising Drive for more bunk beds and collecting donations to purchase as many as 25 bunk beds, 50 mattresses and 100 sets of sheets. These beds will be made from strong steel tubing by local tradesmen, and will create some jobs as well. We already have a couple of families supporting this project, but we need more help. So if you would like to purchase a bed, mattress or cotton bedsheet set ($100, $85, $12 respectively) please contact us, or use the paypal donation option here.
As always, Rogers praises his team and all the caregivers and support staff. There are now 72 staff at JHA. All receiving daily meals and a small stipend. Rogers emphasizes the selflessness of the JHA caregivers and their willingness to invest in their community and to " hold the fortunes in the community, as the community is their bank account" .
"It always give hope that the future of this community is in safe hands. With selfless support from the great people and all the humble support from everyone, these young kids will grow into prominent members of community and agents of changes! Let’s join hands and keep helping this underprivileged community!"
After greeting each member of the team their weekly meetings start out with this question: "what did you do since the last meeting that made a difference in the lives of the people of Gashora or the JHA team members?"
A weekly reflection! What a good idea!
The team teaches the principles of Ubuntu “I am because we are" and the children are blessed to have such incredible role models. No matter what happens to these children in the course of their lives, those seeds of love and kindness, sharing and supporting will have been well planted and will one day bear fruit.
Last but not least we would like to take this opportunity to introduce two lovely young Kinesiology students from the Vancouver Island University to you. Shea and Karen Battie and their leadership team from the Women’s Varsity Soccer Team are doing their final capstone project. They have chosen to support the young soccer players of Gashora and in partnership with the Nanaimo United Soccer Club, VIU, school District 68 and Pacific Sport Vancouver Island are launching the "PLAY FOR PEACE" project.
If you know of a suitable place to display the poster, or share it with soccer clubs and coaches, please feel free to print it and pass it around. Thank you. (view poster)
One final note, as many young Canadian students are completing their last high school year and considering GAP YEAR or other volunteer options. JHA is welcoming young students. We are just in the process of putting together a brand new program and will announce it in our next newsletter. Still, I wanted to at least mention it today. Please contact me if you would like some information.
In the spirit of Ubuntu and always with deep gratitude for your continued interest and support.
Dear FrOGs, here we are again with updates and great news.
The Christmas market once again was a great success. We reached our weekend goal by the end of Saturday and then repeated it again on Sunday! Thank you to all who came out and enjoyed the festive atmosphere. The delicious treats and hot drinks where a popular item. The online sale of "ICYREBE GALLERY, GASHORA" artwork is still in process with many beautiful pieces left. If you are still looking for that unique gift, please check out the art catalogue.
Also, FrOG will participate at the North Park Market & Multicultural Festival on Dec 12th, 10:30am-1:30pm at Royal Athletic Park, 1014 Caledonia Ave. So come and visit us there if you missed the last market.
And now to some great news.
From Rogers /Ubuntu Space:
"Our second graduation comes at peak time and the world is not sure about tomorrow, these unprecedented times taught us so much, resilience, humbleness, perseverance and most of all hope and triumph. Hope is the eyes of difficulty. Friends that never give up on you in times of challenge.
This means alot to all of us, Mama is at work and economically empowered and emancipation is on her way, child is safe, out of mal nutrition and graduating in academics, we are growing and we cant be without all our friends, we are thankful and grateful for all the love and guidance of all of you who have been part of our humble journey."
An other parcel with medical supplies, little underpants and beautiful knitted hats arrived in Gashora. Sent once again by "Knitting with Love for Gashora". Look at these this little one fishing out a hat right away! Thank you to our FrOGs in Germany for your ongoing love and support.
Meet Anni, the newest member to the cow population. Donated by FrOG in celebration of a special anniversary! Our American partners also have purchased 4 cows, ready to arrive soon.
All this will greatly support the ever growing need of feeding so many. The 400 children of JHA and the nearly 300 hungry and malnourished children, NOT enrolled in the JHA centres, that show up DAILY and sit outside the fence looking in and hoping for some food.
This situation is heart wrenching for the staff, many of whom give up their own food to feed whom they can. With all these lovely new cows, new jobs are also being created. JHA now provides 47 full time Jobs and 167 part time jobs to local people, especially young single moms who are often not respected and often shunned. Forget not that many of these pregnancies are not the result of consented relations. These jobs have an incredible impact on the individual as well as the community overall.
Meet Steven, the lovely young man that takes care of Victoria!
JHA also added a pig (which just gave birth to 5 piglets) and many more goats and chickens, as FrOGs and our American friends continue to purchase gifts in support of the "Food Basket Project".
Here is what Jean Claude Papy, one of the team leaders, said about this video:
"Wow this is energizing to see the things you were dreaming come true! at JHA our dream was always to see positive change to Gashora Community! That smile from Vianney who was brought at JHA with acute mulnutrition,him milking a cow means easy access to milk which was a luxury to him before . This smile means alot to all of us at JHA. and all our friends who support to make this happen. God bless for us! and the whole JHA team on ground, Rogers this is impacting. Am happy that we chose to do this! Thank you all for this! "
Our weaving training is coming along beautifully and we have received the first baskets ready for sale in this last shipment. This frees up our experienced weavers to create even more outstanding pieces of art, ready to wow the discerning collector and lover of African art. The young women at the sewing workshop have been sewing all the school uniforms for this new school year and are soon ready to start sewing for a local market. It is never too early to educate the next generation in the importance of food production and food security.
Abdoul’s "seeds of love" farm project, that many of you supported, is now in full swing. His goal was to provide food for 500 families. He is presently at 400. If you would like to participate again in the next planting season through purchasing seeds, you know how to contact me.
Also, I would like to share some lovely messages I recently received.
From one of our beneficiaries:
"I now know that everyone can leave and go home. But back on my mind I know I have no any other home to go to. JHA home is my home. This is where I have a family that believes in me, when my father never believed in me and a family that denied me as a son."
From one of our beautiful muslim young team members, without whom I could not do the whole basket thing. She was just chosen to be the "youth advisor of development and cooperation" at the district level.
"I believe that I was driven by God’s mercy all way down here to Gashora for a very big reason which I will always humbly respect and consider to make a step forward in this world.
With all due respect, I appreciate the lessons of Ubuntu, Love and Light that we have been taught. There is nothing more to learn other than learning to understand how the three aspects (Ubuntu, Love and Light) are conducted. I am sure that this should the great pivot for all the peace building personnel as well as communities. I have learnt to be more positive than I ever imagined."
So here I come to the end of an other newsletter and we are nearing the end of an other year. A year filled with excitement and wonderful news of progress, forward movement, as well as a deeper awareness of an ever growing need. To think that less than 3 years ago NONE of this existed! JHA had not yet been founded ! It is nothing short of a miracle! A miracle in which all of your played an important part.
As JHA expands their capacity to reach more and more children and families, we recognize the need for more food. The demands on JHA once again are great, as the rains arrived 6 weeks late this year and as a result many villagers lost this harvest. Thank God for our well, which provides enough water to keep the "seeds of love farm" watered and productive. If you wish to support our critical "Food Basket Project" and help the many young children of Gashora, please visit our gift catalogue:
We are still in need of Sponsors for so many children, so please consider sponsoring a child, maybe the same age as your own little ones. Some of you amazing FrOGs have already signed up for monthly automatic donations which is an other easy way to help out.
We would like to acknowledge also our biggest retail supporters that for three years in a row have been buying our baskets and thus supporting not only the weavers, but all the people that are involved in the basket production. Please visit and support these great shops in return.
In Victoria: Bungalow, Monarch Furniture, Global Village ,Amelia Lee
Qualicum Beach: Englishmen Interior
Tofino: Selkies, Treehouse Gifts
Gibson: Whimsey Giftware
Campbell River: Willow Market
We would also like to take this opportunity to wish you all the very best for the holidays. May you spend peaceful days with loved ones and enjoy a festive season filled with light and love. We thank you for your ongoing love, kindness and continued support throughout yet another challenging yet wonderful year and for supporting the children to reach their "infinite possibilities". Thank you for holding the vision and participating in the process of making it happen. My heart is full with gratitude.
Dear Frogs, it is with much joy that I am writing this newsletter. I have so many wonderful stories to share.
News of the well: THERE IS WATER!! Oh my God. What a glorious day it was for the team when that beautiful, clean water gushed from the pipe. It looks like there is even more water available than we had hoped and it will support nearly 1500 people plus the animals and the gardens. YEAH !!!!!!
Here is what Rogers ( CEO of JHA and team leader in Gashora ) wrote:
“1500 women and children can now access clean and safe water daily”.
Our communities have chronic problems just like many other communities in Africa, limited access to clean and safe water being one of them. Too much sunshine is one of our biggest problems, that lead to less agricultural production and lack of enough water supply for both home use and drinking. At Journey House Actions - Rwanda we believe in leveraging on our problems to build remedy towards these very problems.
Solar energy is now the main solution in pumping the relevant clean and safe water to drink for more than 400 children in both Journey of success schools and 1000 community members. We are at a stage of piping and cleaning, so far so good. Special thanks to all our friends and families in FROG and AFJHA.
Here is one more story I want to share, from that day …..
"When we pumped water for the first time and the water came up, one of our neighbours shared a story that day. She said, ‘for the first time, at least I am guaranteed that no more of my children will be lost in the swamp because my son got lost in that swamp when he had gone to fetch water.’ Her son probably stepped into a very deep hole within the swamp and just got swallowed up. You can’t figure out how to get a person out of a swamp like this. They looked for months and months but the boy was never found. When the mom said that, I felt like the water project is not only here to change the lives of the people in way that they have access to safe and clean water and to reduce the rate of water born diseases, but it is also lifesaving because all the children go to the swamp every day.” - Rogers Kimuli
Nutrition program: Here is an other quote I need to share with you. It is from the team leader from last week.
"Many of our children are now out of stunting growth status. Like many other children in Africa and in my country, I’ve known what it means to be hungry, I know what going days without food means. Today, more than 98% of children enrolled into our program were stunted and malnourished. Our feeding program under Journey House Actions - Rwanda Food Basket has lifted more than 81% of our children out of this chronic malnutrition status. They are all very smart and intelligent children, ready to unlock these obstacles as leaders."
Malnutrition in children is especially problematic as the damage to physical and cognitive development during the first few years of life are largely irreversible. Severe Acute Malnutrition ( SAM ) is an extreme condition, with death being the worst outcome. Children who survive can face a long list of devastating side effects that last a lifetime, preventing them from achieving success in school and pursuing meaningful work in adulthood. Such effects of malnutrition include increased vulnerability to diseases, developmental delays, stunted growth and even blindness. The causes of malnutrition go far beyond simply lacking food. Poverty, ( 39 % of the population of Rwanda lives below the poverty line ), feeding practices, diseases, contaminated water, poor sanitation and extreme weather events are the factors that effect the vulnerable families in Gashora. The impacts of the poor living conditions after the genocide, especially in Gashora, are now becoming apparent in the young mothers that are having children. Many of them suffered from malnutrition setbacks long before they became pregnant and this can still now impact the health of the baby. Gender based issues like lack of educatIon, early marriage, violence and discrimination, especially against single moms also play a big role in the cycle of malnutrition.
(adapted from Unicef’s information on SAM )
By working with our partners in Rwanda, the US and in Canada, JHA is making a measurable impact. By delivering a variety of nutritional programs through the JHA "food basket", nearly all the children that are registered at the two preschools are now healthy and growing. A couple of our young boys who suffered from SAM received urgently needed treatment, including many nutritional supplements, and are now growing and loosing their distended tummies. Considering the immense challenges that the team faced during these difficult months of covid restrictions, lockdowns and food shortages, it is nothing short of miraculous that JHA reached this remarkable milestone.
Of course none of that would have been possible without the generosity of all our wonderful FROGS and partners in the US as well as all our international sponsors from the US, Canada, Germany and most recently Scotland, who have committed to supporting the most at risk children in Gashora.
The new preschool will be open 365 days a year to:
ensure that all the JHA school children will receive nutritious meals every day.
continue to run the many after school programs ( like computer class, english club, sewing center, arts programs, single mom’s groups and others )
And while all this is wonderful news, there remains the problem of the 200 plus hungry children that show up at the school gate every day. The team is doing the best they can, and at least now can readily share water with these little ones. Sometimes a caregiver will go out and sit and read to a group or at least engage the children in some way. The hope is of course to "grow the food basket" so that we can give each of them at least a cup of porridge a day.
One way to support JHA in feeding these children is by sponsoring one of these hungry little ones. (https://www.friendsofgashora.com/gift-catalogue)
And here is what we presently working on, now that the well is up and running:
We are presently supporting Abdoul’s " seeds of Love " project, which I have mentioned previously.
From being hungry to feeding 500 hungry families. Abdul is one of the children rescued from living on the streets. Hungry, unsheltered and with no schooling. Journey House Actions took him in, fed him, gave him a home and the opportunity to go to School. The transformation was remarkable! Abdoul excelled in School and is a kind, soft spoken, gentle teenager with a vision. During the extended Covid lockdowns, when Schools were closed, Abdoul helped out with the goats, chickens and cows and discovered his love for the land. He worked hard on the JHA farm and one day came home announcing his dream.
Remembering the days when he was hungry every day and recognizing how blessed he is now under the care of JHA, he wants to feed 500 families from produce he will grow on "his farm". He will also teach many families to build kitchen gardens to grow fruits and vegetables to feed their children, which are malnourished and suffering from stunting.
Because of all the gift shops on Vancouver Island that continue to purchase the Gashora weaver’s baskets and because of some generous donations towards this deserving project, Abdoul’s dream has become reality. In the photo below you can see the tender little greens now being watered generously, as a powerful pump is delivering the water straight from the lake to "his" farm.
No more carrying countless jerry cans and spending hours just watering the land. I can’t wait to see the crops being harvested in just a few short months. When texting with him this morning, this is what he wrote : " I will keep GOD in my anything I do".
Abdoul, you ROCK !!!!!
Look at the beauty of this land.
The Future: PEACE GARDEN.
Now that the pump is delivering water to the farm from the lake, an other dream might be able to be realized. The peace garden is a project that we have been thinking about for the last three years. But there was no point to even consider it, as watering the garden was not possible. We will be starting conversations around this project as to what we want to achieve and which components need to be present to do that. We are welcoming suggestions, considerations and insights. Please hold the vision of the garden, knowing that a peace garden and it’s effects are not limited to it’s geographical location, rather it becomes like a stone thrown into a lake, sending out circles upon circles reaching far and wide.
Here is what Rogers shared with us:
" For more than 27 years now, many Rwandans, mostly the young people are really living with lots of mind stress and mental trauma due to the effects of the 1994 genocide. The Peace Garden is a collective idea from our JHA leadership, to build a friendly and sustainable environment, that will act as a vessel to fuel our ongoing efforts to build a one nation and a one Rwandan community. To put a halt on the so called Hutu, Tutsi and Twa differences that were being instilled into our people for decades.
"If a human was being taught to hate, they can be taught to love too" Mandela said. "Darkness can not drive out darkness, only light can do".
The Peace garden will build more light in our global hearts.
It will also be a great reason to build a global peace education center, One People and a One united people's world. The Peace Garden will also act as a global garden for Global citizens to share cross cultural exchange."
We are also dreaming about building the "seeds of love" Dormitory on the land adjacent to the lake and the Peace Garden. This would offer more adequate space for some of the children that JHA is hoping to care for in the future and to help them to …."break all the challenges that would lead to not be able to allow the mind to dream of a better future."…
It would also accommodate any volunteer teachers, potential gap year students and any visitors that would like to experience a most memorable rural African village, or learn to weave.
There is also talk of a community coffee planting project. Possibly have small backyard growers plant coffee. JHA will support especially single mothers. Small crops add up to large amounts and would be sold under the JHA label. Rwanda is famous for its coffee! So Starbucks watch out!
What else is new?
In just four months our two cows have produced their purchase price in milk. And!!! Both cows are pregnant. YEAH!!!!!! Wisconsin is expecting in November and Victoria in March. What happy news. Two new cows, such a blessing.
It is not only the milk that is so important for the nutritional programs, as the milk is added to the daily porridge for the 300 pre school children, but the dung is critical for the farm, and eventually, when there are many more cows, the dung can be used for bio fuel.( 50 cows is the goal…let me know if you would like to purchase one in your name ).
The care of the cows offer job opportunities to homeless and unemployed youths, as grassboys and watchmen. The little ones all learn about the care of the cows during "field trips", and each visit from the vet becomes a teaching opportunity.
Kris, the new teacher volunteer from California arrived a couple of months ago and he has been auch a blessing to JHA. Though he is struggling with the climate and landed in the middle of the water shortage, he is working tirelessly with the team and the children and has become a true member of "team never sleep". His background and expertise are such an asset for JHA. The children love him, and somehow managed to liberate his cell phone from him, happily playing games on it. Like all volunteers that visit Gashora for the first time, he still has to learn the hardest lesson of all. You need to eat the food and fruits that are provided for you and not give it all away. You are no use to anyone if you don’t eat.
The workshop is now up and running, after a couple of starts and stops with the odd lockdown thrown in for good measure. The young ladies have already made shirts and pants and are eagerly learning their new craft. With the arrival of the washable menstrual pads, the group has decided to give back what our wonderful ladies in Comox have modelled. ( "sewing for change" donated the 150 kits of pads ). So the young sewers are planning to sew pads for young women that can not access sanitary products and thus enable them to go to school and play sports even on "those" days of the month. The lessons that they will learn in this manufacturing process will be huge, and beyond just the sewing skills. Team work, accountability, responsibility, accuracy…. We are so pleased with this decision, that came instantly when they received the gift of the kits.
There are presently 20 young women enrolled in the program, with an additional 61 women waiting to get in !
Unfortunately the team had to make the hard decision to let two girls go, as they just where not able to adhere to the standards of behaviour. When they can understand the need for rules and can commit to being responsible, they will be welcomed back to the program.
Just quickly cycling back to our wonder women in Comox. We have just received two big bags full of washable diapers, which will soon be on their way to Gashora as well. You ladies are unstoppable! THANK YOU!
So you can see that JHA is growing in leaps and bounds. Luckily though it seems that each time someone shares our facebook posts, we have a new subscriber to our FROG newsletter. Keep up with the sharing and keep checking us out on Facebook and Instagram for our weekly photos and updates.
One last thing! UBUNTU
Some of you have asked me about Ubuntu, that Rogers uses on his posts. Ubuntu can best be described as an African Philosophy that places emphasis on "being self through others" (taken from "Exploring African Philosophy")
Ubuntu means "I am, because you are". Or "I am, because of who we all are". It is a Zulu word and literally means that a person is a person through other people. Ubuntu has its roots in humanist African philosophy, where the idea of community is one of the building blocks of society.
Ubuntu is that nebulous concept of common humanity, oneness: humanity, you and me both. Archbishop Desmond Tutu in his book " No Future without Forgiveness" describes a person with Ubuntu as "open and available to others, affirming of others…” The Ubuntu this person possesses comes from being part of a greater whole. (Wikipedia and African Philosophy)
Ubuntu is the guiding principle of our wonderful JHA team. You are such an inspiration to us all, and we have so much to learn from you. It is our great privilege to walk along this incredible path with you and to be allowed to witness your successes and support you through your struggles.
Thank you to all our amazing ( this is Rogers favourite word ) supporters. Keep spreading the word, so we can keep growing and keep up with answering the need.
Love and Light to you all.
AUGUST 15th, 2021
Thank you to all of you who made this happen.
This message is from the team in Gashora.
“Today we extract clean and safe water to drink for our Gashora children”
Like many other children in Rwanda and in Africa, access to clean and safe water is a nightmare. With 64% rural Africa not having access to proper WASH (Water Sanitation and Hygiene), as WHO says. I have drunk and swallowed this dirty and unsafe water for years until somehow light came to my life, but to all our population especially children.
Since 2006, the first time I came to Bugesera, access to clean and safe water has always been a problem, it’s chronically grown.
Today we champion our first Clean and safe sustainable water project, to live forever with, full access to water, unlocking our boundless infinite possibilities, this comes at a point of excitement when our children feeding program to fight against chronic mal-nutrition is most important.
We will always be grateful and we will always be thankful to everyone that has been on this journey with our Journey House Actions - Rwanda community.